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Besides answering a lot of queries (see this month's ), the main focus this month is on the most recent attempts to bust the Rubinstein Variation.

Thanks to GM Bogdan Lalic for his historical survey of the Winawer 4.a3 and the Nisipeanu game.. I'll incorporate it into a future update. Also thanks to Sebastian Gueler- I'll hold over your Tarrasch enquiry until next time.

Download PGN of November '05 French games

The Two Knights

Is White better after all?

Jose Blades writes: «... on the Qb3 critical suggestion I made, you pointed out a line that restores material equality for Black and I wanted to share and show that White ends up with what I strongly feel is an undisputed edge and some problems for Black...»

Thanks Jose, here is the position:

Jose has added analysis to the notes to 14...Bxc3 to suggest that Black isn't OK after all: here is Shivaji - Shulman Version Two. Any one want to make any suggestions?

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Be7

A tried and tested defence

The 4.e5 c5 5.Qg4 variation has caused Black some grief in the past, so it was good when Chinese WGM Wang Yu played it against Smbat Lputian at the recent World Teams Championship:

The Armenian GM has a narrow opening repertoire, but once which he tests thoroughly. Therefore we were bound to get a useful lesson in how to handle this line as Black: here is Wang Yu-Lputian.

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Nc6

Caveman - Maniac: A tragic end to the story?

More news from subscriber Zeno Kupper:

«It seems that I found a move (or better "rediscovered") that looks like it might be the death knell of the "Maniac" variation in the Guimard (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nc6 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nd7 6.Be2 f6 7.exf6 Qxf6 8.Nf1 e5!? (or maybe just "?" now) 9.Ne3 e4 10.Nxd5 Qd6 11.Bc4 exf3).
The "novelty" (first played in 1982) is 12. 0-0! (see game below)

I have analysed this move after an internet blitz game, where my opponent, after losing another game against me in this variation some time ago, uncorked this. From what I see with the help of our good old German friend, black is just lost! The most forcing line gives black a lost endgame with a lot of uncoordinated pieces against a raging queen. I then had a look at the database, and in fact the move was played once in 1982, with white scoring an easy win. 12.0-0! has a simple logic. It brings a rook into the game, while the white king is ready to calmly stop a berserk pawn on g2. Now white has just too many pieces developed against a trapped black king. The situation seems to be quite simple, and I see no way for black to confuse matters.»

Oh dear. I guess this proves the proverb that 'everything is new that has been forgotten'. Well at least Black has other, more solid ways of playing the Guimard. Here is Zeno's analysis, with one or two of additions of my own, in Caveman3-Maniac3. My thanks to Zeno.

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 c5/3...Nf6

Ivanchuk versus the Universal System

This opening system with 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nfd7 6.c3 Nc6 7.Bd3, which also arises from the 3...Nf6 Tarrasch, has caused Black so many problems that it is highly interesting to see what a supermind like Ivanchuk chooses to play against it:

The answer is somewhat unexpected. A draw might not seem a particularly good result against a player rated nearly 200 points below him, but Ivanchuk misses the win of a rook at the end, no doubt in a time scramble. Here is Fedorchuk - Ivanchuk.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nc6

The Nameless Opening

Please check out this month's , where there are a number of emails about the nomenclature, including two from French 'Guru' John Watson! Meanwhile, subscriber Chris writes:

«When I received your October update I was delighted to see the Rozentalis-variation! I first saw it in the famous Fischer-Petrosjan encounter while it had also been dealt with in the recent SOS 3-book.
Honestly, I did not take it too seriously until I lost against it with White in a rapid-game against one of our local FMs! So I began to study it for some time and found what I think is a good way for white to play the line:
1. e4 e6, 2. d4 d5, 3. Nc3 Nc6, 4. Nf3 Nf6, 5. e5 Ne4, 6. Ne2! f6, 7. Ng3!
fe5:, 8. Bb5! as once played by Timman:

8. Bb5 seems better than the normal 8. de5 that Hector played against Rozentalis, at least in my eyes... Chris
PS: Compliments on your books on the Benko and the Bb5-Sicilian - they are just great! Looking forward for your book on Spielmann!»

Now that's the sort of email I like to get! Thanks for the plug for the books.

It's a bit alarming to hear about 8.Bb5, but with the aid of some 'non-human' moves courtesy of Fritz I have concluded that Black is doing OK. The line 8.Bb5 was actually tested in the game Hector - Rozentalis. Here you can also find the latest word on the opening from Herr Reefschlaeger himself

My thanks to Mike, Chris and John. Anyone else have any opinions on how to name the opening, or is it going to be the Hecht-Reefschlaeger?

Rubinstein 3...dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7

Modern attempt to refute the Rubinstein

Well, after all the semantics in the , I guess you might actually feel like looking at some chess. The Rubinstein variation is under the spotlight this month. First of all, one of the strongest new Russian Grandmasters comes up with a dangerous attacking line in Motylev - Roiz.

Next, Roiz gets sumptuous 'revenge' in Roiz - Vaganian. Incidentally, it's a sad fact that chess theory is going to be less fertile now that Kasparov is no longer pioneering opening lines. Even lines that he has only played once tend to be adopted and refined by other players. One such example is seen in the game Perez Candelario-Perez.

So how healthy is the Rubinstein after all these attacks on it? Well, it is still viable, but the idea that it is a refuge from sharp theory no longer applies. You need to have some idea of what you are doing against these sharp attacking lines.

Well that's all for now. Good luck with your chess!

Best Regards, Neil